Archive for March, 2008

Book of Concord Video

March 30th, 2008 5 comments

This is a video that was posted to the interesting social-network site The Wittenberg Trail. There are now nearly 2,000 people who have joined the Wittenberg Trail. I thought this video was rather striking. Your thoughts?


Find more videos like this on The Wittenberg Trail

Categories: Uncategorized

New Post At the Blog of Concord

March 30th, 2008 Comments off

A new conversation is underway at the Blog of Concord, on the First Part of the Smalcald Articles, "The Awe-Inspiring Articles on the Divine Majesty."

Categories: Blogging

The Journeys of St. Paul in Google Maps

March 29th, 2008 Comments off

This is pretty cool. Somebody has traced out the journeys of Paul and overlayed it on the Google map functions, so you can see them by regular map, by terrain, and even, the coolest one, the satellite view where you can see the actual land forms, and features. Check it out here.


Categories: Internet Resource

The Poverty of Liberal “Pastoral Care”

March 26th, 2008 9 comments

This is an amazing video that shows the absolute poverty of much of what passes for "pastoral care" these days. What a great teaching tool. We can, and must, show great empathy, sympathy and care and let people talk. "Active listening" is a great tool, but too often it becomes the goal and focus of pastoral care, when it must be followed by "active proclamation." So many are, like this man, looking for forgiveness, a "real God" not the emptiness shown here.

Categories: Uncategorized

Abortion and Annunciation

March 26th, 2008 Comments off

Rev. Scott Stiegemeyer offers these very good thoughts on the issue of abortion as seen in the light of the Incarnation of Christ. I vividly recall the first time I was struck by this very correct line of thinking: the Annunciation of Our Lord, which marks His virginal conception, is a powerful argument in support of not ending the lives of unborn children. Our Lord was Himself a tiny little human being when only a few cells "old" as it were. By the way, if you have not already, be sure to add Concordia Theological Seminary’s blog site to your reader.

Here are Pastor Stiegemeyer’s thoughts:

Even though we are still basking in the glory
of the Festival of the Resurrection, today my mind turns toward
Christmas. That’s because today is the commemoration of the
Annunciation, the scene in Luke’s Gospel where the angel tells Mary
that she will bear a son who will be called the Son of God. March 25 is
exactly nine months before Christmas which, of course, is the the
celebration of the birth of Jesus.* Thus today is really the
celebration of the impregnation of Mary, the incarnation of God’s one
eternally begotten son in the Virgin’s womb. As St. John wrote: The
Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

I never seem to get past this date without needing to comment on the
great atrocity of abortion. It is simply not possible to take the
incarnation of God’s Son seriously and not be opposed to abortion. The
Eternal Son did not begin his earthly pilgrimage as an infant in
Bethlehem. He began it as a zygote in Nazareth.

Some modern churches have altered the words of the Nicene Creed to
become more politically correct, and in so doing have sold their souls
for a mess of pottage. The traditional English translation states that
the Son of God “became man.”  In order to avoid the appearance of male chauvinism, some have rendered this instead as “became fully human.”

That is a very unsatisfactory translation. I understand the purpose.
By “man,” we do not mean to imply that the incarnation does not benefit
people without penises. So we say Jesus became a human being. And that
is true enough. The trouble is with the phrase fully human.”
Fully Human? What other options were there? Could the Son of God have
entered the world as a partial human? A potential human? Maybe a cyborg
or a chimera? The phrase “fully human” implies that there are degrees
of being human and that is completely incompatible with the Christian

I’m with Frederica Mathewes-Green who said, “I believe that we begin
when our bodies begin…. I believe that where there is a living body,
there is a soul. There is no such thing as a living body without a
soul; I’ve never encountered such a concept outside zombie movies. You
can’t, therefore, say that this living, unique human body suddenly
becomes a person at six months gestation, or at birth, or some other
time. Where there is a living human body, there is human life.” To read
the rest of her stunning essay, go here.

There are ethical implications for what we believe as Christians. It
is not possible to take seriously the incarnation of the Son of God
while tolerating abortion. Read that sentence again. Read it twice
because anyone who denies the true humanity of Jesus is in serious

St. John wrote that anyone who denies the incarnation of the Son of God is the antichrist.  “Many
deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh,
have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the
antichrist (2John:7).”

A person who accepts abortion must reason that the object
being removed from the woman is non-human or somehow less than human,
otherwise it is clearly murder. A Christian, however, believes that God
became flesh at the point of conception (”conceived by the Holy
Spirit”) and this confirms for us the tenet that a zygote is a human

I don’t see how anyone can, in good conscience, celebrate Christmas without opposing abortion.

* Before anyone asks, no, we do not know the precise date
of Jesus’ birth. These dates were selected by the church and continue
to be observed out of tradition.

Lenski Coming to Libronix

March 26th, 2008 2 comments

Good news! The NT commentary by Lenski are coming soon to a computer near you, thanks to Libronix. A pre-publication price is being offered.

Categories: Uncategorized

More Lutheran Goodness for Libronix

March 24th, 2008 4 comments

I was just informed that Libronix is offering a pre-publication special price on a new collection of resources for Libronix, from Northwestern Publishing House. Here is where you can read more about it.

Categories: Digital Resources

Awake My Heart With Gladness

March 23rd, 2008 1 comment

Awake, my heart, with gladness,
See what today is done;
Now, after gloom and sadness,
Comes forth the glorious Sun.
My Savior there was laid
Where our bed must be made
When to the realms of light
Our spirit wings its flight.

The foe in triumph shouted
When Christ lay in the tomb;
But, lo, he now is routed,
His boast is turned to gloom.
For Christ again is free;
In glorious victory
He Who is strong to save
Has triumphed o’er the grave.

This is a sight that gladdens;
What peace it doth impart!
Now nothing ever saddens
The joy within my heart.
No gloom shall ever shake,
No foe shall ever take,
The hope which God’s own Son
In love for me hath won.

Now hell, its prince, the devil
Of all their powers are shorn;
Now I am safe from evil,
And sin I laugh to scorn.
Grim Death with all his might
Cannot my soul affright;
He is a powerless form,
Howe’er he rave and storm.

The world against me rageth
Its fury I disdain;
Though bitter war it wageth
Its work is all in vain.
My heart from care is free,
No trouble troubles me.
Misfortune now is play
And night is bright as day.

Now I will cling forever
To Christ, my Savior true;
My Lord will leave me never,
Whate’er He passeth through.
He rends Death’s iron chain,
He breaks through sin and pain,
He shatters hell’s dark thrall,
I follow Him through all.

To halls of heavenly splendor
With Him I penetrate;
And trouble ne’er may hinder
Nor make me hesitate.
Let tempests rage at will,
My Savior shields me still;
He grants abiding peace
And bids all tumult cease.

He brings me to the portal
That leads to bliss untold,
Whereon this rhyme immortal
Is found in script of gold:
“Who there My cross hath shared
Finds here a crown prepared;
Who there with Me hath died
Shall here be glorified.”

Hymn by Paul Gerhardt.

Lumen Christi: Light of Christ — Ancient Reading for the Easter Vigil

March 23rd, 2008 Comments off

Rejoice now, O heavenly choirs of angels;
Rejoice now, all creation
Sound forth, trumpet of salvation,
And proclaim the triumph of our King.

Rejoice too, all the earth,
In the radiance of the light now poured upon you
And made brilliant by the brightness of the everlasting King;
Know that the ancient darkness has been forever banished.

Rejoice, O Church of Christ,
Clothed in the brightness of this light;
Let all the house of God ring out with rejoicing,
With the praises of all God’s faithful people.

(Exsultet of the Easter Vigil)

O night that is brighter than day,
O night more dazzling than the sun,
O night more sparkling than fresh snow,
O night more brilliant than all our lamps!
O night that is sweeter than Paradise,
O night delivered from darkness,
O night that dispels the sleep of sin,
O night that makes us keep vigil with the angels,
O night terrible for the demons,
O night desired by all the year,
O night that leads the bridal Church to her Spouse,
O night that is mother to those enlightened!
O night in which the Devil, sleeping, was despoiled,
O night in which the Heir brings the co-heirs to their heritage.

(Asterius of Pontus  AD 341-400)

Thanks to Pastor Cwirla for this.

Categories: Uncategorized

Wise Pastoral Wisdom from LCMS District President re. Issues, etc. matter

March 22nd, 2008 Comments off

I’ve been hearing from a lot of you who are confused, upset and frustrated by the cancellation of the radio show, Issues, etc. It’s all too easy in such situations to indulge in speculations and frankly, the eighth commandment can be far too easily trampled in the process. I very much appreciated the wise counsel, and pastoral wisdom, offered by LCMS District President Herb Mueller and thought I would share it with you.

Statement to the Southern Illinois District on Issues Etc. by District President, the Rev. Herb Mueller

My brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus:

God’s peace is ours in Christ Jesus, won for us this day as our Lord Jesus died for us.  He took our sin and death into Himself that He might give us His life and His righteousness.  In the proclamation of His cross and His resurrection, we have life.  I pray God’s blessing and peace for you and yours this Good Friday.

As many of you know, this past Tuesday the very popular Lutheran radio show, Issues Etc. was cancelled and the host, Rev. Todd Wilken (a member of the SID) and the show’s producer, Mr. Jeff Schwarz (a member of St. Paul, Hamel) have been dismissed from the employ of the Synod.  By way of explanation, this is what David Strand, Director of the Board for Communication Services, sent to the District Presidents:

While this was a programmatic and business decision, it also touches on matters of employment and human resources.  Because of this, there is very little that can appropriately be said by way of "explanation" or "reasons" for this decision.

I would respectfully suggest that you direct callers or e-mailers to the Synod’s Church Information Center (1-888-THE LCMS, or, whose staff is equipped to handle such calls.  There also is a brief statement on the KFUO-AM website at (from an email, received from David Strand March 19, 2008)

In addition, when I first heard of this, I asked President Gerald Kieschnick if he could tell me why the show was cancelled and why Rev. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz were dismissed.  Following is his response:

Following is a statement from the Board for Communication Services office regarding this matter, which transpired with my awareness but neither by my order nor at my direction:  The “Issues, Etc.” radio program on KFUO-AM has been discontinued. Show host Rev. Todd Wilken and producer Mr. Jeff Schwarz are no longer with KFUO. We thank these men for their years of service of behalf of the station.…To my knowledge there is no reason for disciplinary action regarding those affected (From an email, received from President Kieschnick March 18, 2008)

I have received no further information.  We must always put the best construction on everything. Yet I do realize this leaves many questions completely unanswered.  For instance, why?  What are the “programmatic and business reasons” for the decision?  No one, least of all Rev. Todd Wilken or Jeff Schwarz, has been given any reason.  Please trust that I am diligently seeking more complete answers through personal contacts.  I hope that at some time a further explanation can be offered by those responsible.  There may be good, understandable reasons for this, but at the very least, I do believe those who appreciated Issues Etc ought be given a credible explanation why this was done.

In the meantime, I would humbly suggest that you let your thoughts be known by contacting the Board for Communication Services through David Strand (, or by contacting the President’s Office or the numbers given above.  They need to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Please know that I will be doing all I can from my office to help Pastor Wilken and Jeff Schwarz.  The most important thing you can do is to pray for them, pray for our Synod, pray for our leaders.  Please also, in all your contacts, remember the 8th Commandment, remember that we are dealing with brothers in Christ.  Be honest about your thoughts, but remember also our Lord’s Word – “Whatever, you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Colossians 3:17).

Yours in the One crucified for us this day,

+ Herb Mueller
Southern Illinois District President

Categories: Uncategorized

For Us Pleads, in All Trial, Fear and Need: The Lord’s Body and Blood

March 20th, 2008 1 comment

Today is the day in the Christian church year known as Maundy Thursday. Why "Maundy"? It is a word derived from the Latin word "Mandatum" which means "command" and originates from the words of our Lord spoken on the evening of this holy day so many years ago: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35). 

Where does this love come from? Is it a human emotion?  Oh, it is that, but so much more, in fact, much greater than a feeling. The love about which our Lord speaks is the eternal self-sacrificing and self-giving, self-emptying love that animates the Most Holy and Blessed Trinity Himself. "God is love" and therefore, "We love God because He first loved us." (1 John 4). How? As Christ told us, "No greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends." (John 15:13).

And on this day we have Love Incarnate giving Himself to us as He institutes the Most Venerable and Blessed Sacrament of the Altar: the Lord’s Supper, also known as the Eucharist, Holy Communion, the Lord’s Table.

What is it? It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, given to us Christians to eat and to drink.

It is the holy of holies of the New Testament. It is where we are given, by the Lord Himself, into our very mouths, the body and blood given up and shed for us on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22). All the ancient Old Testament animal sacrifices were foreshadows and types of the One final and last eternal sacrifice, the sacrifice by which our sins were cleansed and by which we are set free.

In the Holy Meal we have a share in that sacrifice and are given to eat of that sacrifice, as a sign, promise and assurance that we, personally, are covered by that sacrifice. Where there is the forgiveness of sins, there is life and salvation.

Through the Lord’s Supper, Christ fortifies us to face whatever grief, pain or loss comes into our life. And, they will come, be sure of that. There will be the unexpected loss of a job, a disappointing decision made that impacts many. The loss of a loved one to death, which we will all go through. There is the worry and pressure of life in a busy world, the stress of a strained relationship, or a marriage that is going through a difficult time.

And there is, always and ever, the sin that is ever before us. From which we can not escape, try as we might, the sin that brings us the weight of guilt and, like Adam and Eve, causes us to realize how naked and without excuse we stand before the Holy God. And we turn to the Lord of Life and plead for mercy and He answers our prayer. He says to you, "My son, my daughter, your sins are forgiven! You are mine. I have called you by name. Nothing shall separate you from my love. No sin is too great for my blood to cover. I love you. I forgive you. I lay down my life for you. You are my friend. Take, eat. Take, drink. This is my body, given for you. This is my blood, shed for you. Do this, in remembrance of me."

I can think of no more beautiful meditation on the priceless treasure of the Lord’s Supper that Martin Luther’s hymn: O Lord We Praise Thee

May God grant you a blessed Maundy Thursday.

O Lord, we praise you bless Thee, and adore Thee, in thanksgiving bow before Thee. Thou with Thy body and Thy blood didst nourish our weak souls that they may flourish.

O Lord, have mercy!

May Thy body, Lord, born of Mary, that our sins and sorrows did carry, and Thy blood for us plead in all trial, fear, and need.

O Lord, have mercy!

Thy holy body into death was given, life to win for us in heaven. No greater love than this to Thee could bind us; may this feast thereof remind us!

O Lord, have mercy!

Lord, Thy kindness did so constrain Thee that Thy blood should bless and sustain me. All our debt Thou hast paid; peace with God once more is made.

O Lord, have mercy.

May God bestow on us His grace and favor to please Him with our behavior and live as brethren here in love and union nor repent this blest Communion!

O Lord, have mercy!

Let not Thy good Spirit forsake us; grant that heavenly-minded He make us; give Thy Church, Lord, to see, days of peace and unity.

O Lord, have mercy!

Categories: Uncategorized

Why Libronix and Not Accordance

March 20th, 2008 6 comments

In my post on the Macintosh Alpha version of Libronix, which is now available for you to take a look at and try out, I made a comment about the program: Accordance. The company that produces Accordance sent me an e-mail, politely, but firmly, protesting my remark that with the advent of a Mac native version of Libronix, Accordance has been effectively left in the dust. I’d like to elaborate on why I’m convinced this is true.

First, Libronix is the largest provider of digital texts. There is simply nothing else like it out there. All major Christian publishers are using them as their platform of choice and there are literally hundreds of software titles out there.

Second, it offers very powerful original language research tools, which have been steadily improving over the years to the point where I believe it is on a level equal to anything else out there, or close enough to it that there is no reason to obtain alternative software packages like Accordance of BibleWorks.

Third, I obtained a copy of Accordance some while ago in order to have access to the writings of the Church Fathers for a project I was working on, and I was shocked at the clunky interface of Accordance, one that obviously has not been improved and kept up-to-date with the evolving Macintosh Interface. And, I was stunned by the lack of core functionality in Accordance when it comes to proper citation of texts when you copied from the program and pasted into your word processor.

Fourth, for Lutheran PC users, I believe Libronix is the platform of choice simply due to the fact that nowhere else can you obtain digital editions of Luther’s Works, the Concordia Electronic Theological Library, shortly Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, later in this year all the volumes of the Concordia Commentary volumes, and in the coming years even more volumes of Lutheran texts digitized, and this is just from Concordia Publishing House. Augsburg-Fortress and Northwestern are also both using Libronix exclusively. Simply put, there is no other resource remotely comparable to it for Lutheran theological research and study.

All these reasons combined, in my opinion, make the choice obvious: Libronix.

Categories: Uncategorized

Issues, etc. Archive is Available

March 19th, 2008 Comments off

The archives of previous episodes of Issues, etc. is available once again. It is a tremendous ministry resource. Issues, etc. was The LCMS’s only nationwide media effort and was extremely successful in articulating a well considered, thoughtful and intelligent presentation of the Lutheran faith. Three hours every single day and a nation-wide Sunday broadcast, all available via streaming audio on the Internet. There was nothing else like it available. At least we still have the audio archives. It would be wise to download as much of it as you can.  I would hope that another effort like this show can be launched again, using the Internet to once again reach a worldwide audience. May God grant it!


Categories: Uncategorized

Issues, etc. …. Thank You! We will miss you.

March 18th, 2008 8 comments

Today I received the very sad and disappointing report that the Lutheran talk radio show, Issues, etc. has been canceled and the host and producer terminated.

Issues, etc. reached out clearly and widely with the unique witness and message of Christ-centered, cross-focused, Biblical, confessional Lutheranism. They had listeners all around the world, literally, thanks to the Internet.

The show provided an amazingly diverse and fascinating number of issues and topics. They featured as guests a wide range of pastors, seminary and college professors, and Synodical leaders, such as Dr. Paul Maier and others.

I always appreciated how much work Todd Wilken did keeping us informed about all the latest trends and fads and movements. His interview series with people like John Spong were fascinating! Absolutely. Jeff Schwarz did excellent work keeping the whole thing humming along.

Thanks for all the wonderful work done over the years by Issues, etc.! You will be missed!

Categories: Uncategorized

Singing the Faith: Living the Lutheran Musical Heritage

March 18th, 2008 3 comments

A great new resource is now available from the Good Shepherd Institute in Fort Wayne, Indiana Singing the Faith: Living the Lutheran Musical Heritage.

Here is the press release from the seminary

Theological Seminary’s Good Shepherd Institute of Pastoral Theology and
Sacred Music announces the release of an 80-minute DVD with Dolby
Surround Stereo called: Singing the Faith – Living the Lutheran Musical
Heritage. This is a four-week study that tells the history of Lutheran
congregational song and is viewable in four 20-minute segments or as a
play all video. This teaching aid includes a 32 page teacher’s guide
and reproducible classroom handouts.

The course is taught by
Christopher Boyd Brown (Boston University, School of Theology), Kevin
J. Hildebrand (Concordia Theological Seminary), Martin Jean (Yale
University­­Institute of Sacred Music), Robin Leaver (Westminster Choir
College), Richard C. Resch (Concordia Theological Seminary), Carl F.
Schalk (Concordia University Chicago), Stephen P. Starke (St. John
Lutheran Church, Bay City, Michigan), and Daniel Zager (Eastman School
of Music). The DVD features congregational singing in many settings as
well asperformances by Martin Jean; The Bach Vesper Choir of Holy
Trinity Lutheran Church, New York City with Rick Erickson as Cantor;
and Craig Cramer from The University of Notre Dame. Glorious artwork
from all over the world accompanies the story.

The DVD package may be
purchased from the Seminary Bookstore or directly from Concordia
Publishing House’s web site or by calling 1-800-325-3040.

The product number is 99-2260 and is listed at $24.95.

All proceeds will benefit The Good Shepherd Institute of Pastoral Theologyand Sacred Music.

Categories: Lutheran Hymns